California exports are expected to reach $123 billion next year, a 14% increase over the estimated level for 1996, according to an annual report released Tuesday by Bank of America.
The increase, driven largely by the high-tech sector, is good news for the state economy. Each $1 billion worth of exports accounts for about 19,000 jobs, according to James Livingstone, co-author of the report.
California's export growth rate is expected to continue to outpace the nation's, which is estimated to be 9% next year, compared with 6% this year, the report said. The demand for high-tech products and California's ties to the Pacific Rim account for the state's healthy performance.
"The fundamental trends that are driving the process will continue," Livingstone said. "The medium-sized companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of exports and that it can contribute significantly to their bottom line."
That includes local firms.
"Los Angeles is focusing more and more on computer technology," said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Economic Development Corp. in Los Angeles. "Everybody thinks in terms of Silicon Valley, but we are seeing the growth of new technology in Southern California."
The growing economies and increased per-capita income in some Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, Mexico and Chile, are expected to continue to boost California exports.
The state is expected to post a 3-percentage-point gain in exports to its NAFTA partners next year, the report said. Exports of textiles, rubber and plastic products, fabricated metals and industrial and electronic equipment to Canada and Mexico next year will account for 22% of all state exports.
Trade with Mexico, California's fourth-largest trading market, is expected to continue to reach beyond the border-town maquiladoras and into the interior of the country, boosting business opportunities in the manufacturing and servicing.